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How To Infuse Your Home with the Quintessential Santa Barbara Architectural Style

Deeply rooted in Spanish colonial and Mediterranean influences, Santa Barbara's style of architecture is undeniably charming.

February 29, 2024 at 7:02 PM PST

Located along the picturesque coast of California, Santa Barbara is a city that boasts an architectural style so distinctive and captivating that it has become synonymous with the city itself. Santa Barbara-style architecture, with its white stucco walls, terracotta roofs, and undeniable charm, invites us into a world where history and modernity exist harmoniously.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse
Photo Credit: Blake Bronstad/Courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

On a recent trip to this city by the sea, we had a chance to uncover the stories behind its architectural style, visiting landmarks like the Casa del Herrero and the Santa Barbara County Courthouse while discovering how to sprinkle a bit of this design magic into our own homes.

To understand the essence of Santa Barbara-style architecture, we must first take a step back into the past. This style is deeply rooted in the Spanish colonial and Mediterranean influences, brought to life in the early 20th century during the Spanish Colonial movement. It was a time when architects and designers sought to capture the romanticism of Spain’s colonial architecture and blend it with elements from Mediterranean countries, creating something uniquely Californian in the process.

Architectural Icons of Santa Barbara

Casa del Herrero


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Casa del Herrero, or “The Blacksmith’s House,” stands as a testament to the meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail that defines Santa Barbara-style architecture. This exquisite estate, designed by architect George Washington Smith in the 1920s, showcases the quintessential elements of the style: lush gardens, intricate wrought ironwork, hand-painted tiles, and indoor-outdoor living spaces that seamlessly merge the interior with the exterior. It’s a place where history breathes through the walls, offering a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the era.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Another jewel in the crown of Santa Barbara’s architectural landscape is the County Courthouse. This landmark, famed for its majestic tower and sprawling sunken gardens, exemplifies the elegance and grandeur of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. With its hand-painted ceilings, elaborate murals, and stunning views of the city from the tower, the Courthouse is a celebration of art, culture, and history.

Old Mission Santa Barbara

Old Mission Santa Barbara, often referred to as “Queen of the Missions,” is a shining example of the harmonious blend of Spanish, Moorish, and Native Chumash architectural elements that define this style. Its graceful arches, vibrant gardens, and the iconic twin bell towers offer a tranquil retreat and a touch of serenity to the city.

Bringing Santa Barbara Style Home

You might be wondering, “How can I infuse my home with Santa Barbara-style architecture?” The good news is that you don’t need to live in California to embrace this aesthetic. Here are a few tips to bring this coast charm into your space:

Color Palette

Opt for warm, earthy tones combined with crisp whites to mimic the sun-drenched facades of Santa Barbara homes. Accents of blue and green can add a hint of the ocean and lush landscapes.


Incorporate terracotta tiles, wrought iron accessories, and rustic wood elements to capture the essence of the style. Hand-painted tiles can add a splash of color and artisanal charm to any space.

Casa Del Herrero
Photo Credit: Blake Bronstad/Courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

Indoor-Outdoor Living

Embrace open spaces and ensure a seamless flow between your indoor and outdoor living areas. Add a courtyard or a patio with comfortable seating to enjoy the beauty of nature from the comfort of your home.


Create your own oasis with Mediterranean plants like lavender, rosemary, and olive trees. A well-designed garden can turn your outdoor space into a tranquil retreat reminiscent of Santa Barbara’s lush landscapes.

You can learn more about what Santa Barbara has to offer here.



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